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387

trouble. He wouldn't go away as long as there was a chance
he could do anything to help. That was something.

But in the end, and there was no denying the fact, Doctor
MacDonald would go. Even standing in his cell, saying, " I
might get used to the way this country stinks," he had heen
able to seize on and define a future. He carried his future in
himself. And Sylvestus, in his bitterness and vindictiveness,
could plan a future for himself, away from here, in Oklahoma,
or at some job in a city, somewhere. Willie Proudfit, who
would probably lose his place and everything he had in it,
and who was on past fifty years old, had been able to lie there
on the porch that day and say, "I ain't a old man yit," But
Mr. Munn could not, no matter how hard he tried, think
beyond the moment. He did not have the seed of the future
in himself, the live germ. It had shrivelled up and died, like
a sprouting grain of corn that has been washed out of the hill
to He exposed to the sun's heat.

He could not tell exactly when it had died. Perhaps it had
been dying for a long time, drying and shrivelling slowly,
and he had only come to know that fact, and to know his
isolation, when he lay by the stock pond at the edge of the
woods, with his body pressed against the cold mud, and saw
the impersonal light grow on the sky, above the dark trees.
Perhaps it had died long before, and he had been living, only,
on the hope and the meaning there was in other men. But
now it was dead; and because the future was dead and rotten
in his breast, the past, too, which once had seemed to Mm to
have its meanings and its patterns, began to fall apart, act by
act, incident by incident, thought by thought, each item into
brutish separateness. Some time he would try to build up
some old scene of happiness or distress, to try to make the
image communicate to him again the verity of his past feel-
ings. But it was no use. He could remember some incident,
what had happened, even to the minutest detailóMay's face
lighted with pleasure as she turned to him; or the face of
Bunk Trevelyan's wife when she had come to his office before
his body was found and had said, "They taken him off, in